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The popularity of online dating doesn't seem to be slowing down, with more sites dedicated to the over 50s than ever before. It's not surprising, then, that one in five relationships in the UK start online. Online dating is often a go-to for those in later life who are divorced, widowed or simply in need of companionship. But it can be difficult to put yourself out there. So how do you go about finding the right dating site for you and what are the best sites for those over the age of 50?
"My husband is 10 years younger than me and we met online. I think online dating is becoming increasingly common as stereotypes fade."
The stigmas surrounding online dating, particularly for older daters, are continually being knocked down thanks to the wealth of dating sites dedicated to this age group. While your first reaction might be, "I really don't think online dating is for me" (and that's perfectly okay), approaching it with an open mind could be the way to go. There are, however, some important things to consider before signing up.
"You would need to find a dating site that you feel confident with and investigate their safeguards against the unscrupulous, including scams."
It's worth taking the time to browse a number of different dating sites to get a feel for how they work, what age groups they tend to attract and what they offer. Consider what type of dating site it is and whether or not you trust it. Recommendations from friends, family or even acquaintances could be helpful here.
"Shop around and look for a site that fits your needs."
Are you looking for a 'soulmate', friendship or someone to have some fun with? Different dating sites offer different experiences. While one might be more suited to casual dating, another could be the ideal site for finding companionship or friends online.
"It can pay to pay. Anyone can join most dating sites for free, but if someone takes the time and trouble to pay for a better service it may be an indicator that they are serious about what they want."
The majority of dating sites are free to join, but usually offer paid memberships that include premium features. Each dating site will usually lay out their subscription rates on-site for you to assess before joining, but whether or not you should pay to use a dating site is entirely up to you. Many gransnetters are of the impression that it pays to pay, but there are a number of different sites that offer more than enough free components to get you started.
Sign up to Find Companionship to meet new friends online
"Consider making new friends via the internet. There are many lonely people out there. You have so much to give so live your life to the full."
While there are more dating sites suited to the over 50s than ever before, the task of finding the right site for you can still be tricky, and 'trial and error' seems to be a common motto. There are specific sites dedicated to this age bracket, but many popular dating sites attract a variety of ages and usually have a special section for those looking for older partners or companions.
Taking into consideration the type of individual you are, what you're looking for and whether or not you're happy to pay for online dating will help you whittle down your list so that you're left with only the most suitable of sites. Some sites are completely free to join, while other require a subscription as part of the registration process. So which sites are best for those over 50? Are there any free dating sites specifically dedicated to this age range?
A new site for making connections online in your local area.
Price: It's completely free to join and you will be able to add your photo and create a profile immediately, but you can pay to upgrade your page. It costs £29.95 for one month, £19.99 per month for three months, £15 per month for six months or £12.50 per month for a year. There are additional features for full members, including a dating diary and the ability to send more messages.
Age range: Suitable for a variety of ages, but predominantly for over 50s.
"Try Saga...very respectable."
Price: It's free to create a profile, but costs £10.50 per month for 12 months, £13.33 per month for six months, £18 per month for three months and £28 per month for one month.
Age range: Exclusively for those over the age of 50.
"I met the love of my life through Guardian Soulmates. It was unlike me to have been so bold, but I am always glad I did."
"Two close friends met through the Guardian Soulmates and are one of the happiest couples I know."
Price: Free to join, but the site also has premium plans that cost £16 per month for six months, £21.33 per month for three months and £32 per month for one month, although you can often join as a premium member at a one-off price.
Age range: Most members are between the ages of 25 and 55.
Top tip: Make sure you tick the 'opt out' option if you don't want your profile to appear on the Guardian website.
"I met my second husband on Match.com when I was 55, having been divorced for almost 20 years. I was lucky as my husband was only the third man I met in person from the dating site."
Price: Subscriptions costs £9.99 for six months, £19.99 for three months and £29.99 for one month. You do, however, have the option of a free trial which will allow you to test to waters before joining properly.
Age range: Varies, but the site has a large number of members over 50.
The more mature version of Plenty of Fish.
Price: It's free to register, but you can pay to upgrade. It costs £12.95 per month for 12 months, £14.99 per month for six months, £19.98 per month for three months and £29.95 for one month.
Age range: Suitable for a variety of ages, with a specific section dedicated to older members.
Top tip: Choose the Silver Pond for 'mature' dating.
Highly rated and ideal for those who want a serious relationship.
Price: £7.95 per month for 24 months, £9.95 per month for 12 months, £18.95 per month for six months, £21.95 per month for three months and £44.95 for one month.
Age range: Not restrictive, but the site has sections specifically for those over 50.
Top tip: Be aware of the lengthy Relationships Questionnaire when you sign up. Not for those are wanting to join without a fuss, but great for those who want more accurate matches.
Ideal for those who wish to find companionship and friendship as well as romance.
Price: Free to join, but monthly membership starts from £12.99.
Age range: Mostly over 40s and 50s.
A unique site that allows children to recommend their single parents (usually over 50) for dates. It was set up by Matt Connolly whose mother, then in her 60s, encouraged him to help her find a partner.
Price: Free to join, but you much purchase either a one, three or six month subscription starting at £12.99 in order to send and receive messages.
Age range: Mainly used by single parents over 50.
What you need to know: Your profile will be set up by someone else, i.e your son or daughter, but you'll receive a message letting you know that this has been done. You can also opt to delete your profile at any time if the site isn't for you.
"On a whim I joined Yours Dating and have met a caring, affectionate and understanding person. We have known each other for six months and it is working out really well. On paper our interests are very different so don't dismiss anyone because of this. It's a good idea to meet for coffee first."
Price: Free to browse members and to join, but you must pay to upgrade to a full membership.
Age range: Specifically for those in later life.
Top tip: The Yours Dating team have also created Yours Dating After Loss especially for individuals who have lost a partner or spouse.
Tailored specificially to suit those over 50 and 60. Particularly useful as it offers advice for people in a variety of situations, whether you're widowed, divorced or a single parent.
Price: It's free to create a profile, but paid membership costs between £9.99 and £24.99 depending on your preference (the longest membership option is six months). You can also opt for a three-day trial which will automatically convert to a monthly membership package unless you cancel the renewal.
Age range: Specifically for over 50s (over 40s minimum).
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